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Barrow BOC addresses budget crisis

WINDER - Debate surpassed a fever pitch in Tuesday night's Barrow County Commission meeting, as commissioners spoke plainly to an overflow crowd of about 170, largely of county employees.

Only one resident came forward and spoke briefly, admonishing the board to be honest with residents. Thereafter, commissioners obliged, speaking pointedly and often forcefully about the county's dire finances and the night's emotionally charged resolution to cut personnel and salaries.

The commission said it faces a $1.6 million shortfall for the fiscal year ending in September, and projected only $28 million of revenues for fiscal year 2010, some $7 million short of that year's projected budget. Monday's resolution of across-the-board salary and work hour reductions, a stop-gap preference to raising taxes, is expected to save from $600,000 to $717,000 this year, commissioners estimated.

Chiefly, the four-page resolution called for county employees to work only a half day two Fridays a month, with a proportionate 10 percent salary reduction. The resolution also called for non-specific layoffs, demotions, transfers and reclassifications for county employees, who already have taken some pay cuts and holidays unpaid.

Commissioner Steve Worley, who voted with commissioner Ben Hendrix against the resolution that eventually passed 4-2, spoke forcefully, but unspecifically, to tax payers.

"Property tax payers, if you're delinquent on your taxes, you're part of the problem also," he said.